By ALLISON SCHUMAKER
Universities are a breeding ground for disease. Since I’ve been at Mary Washington, I’ve experienced many illnesses. No matter the amount of multivitamins or antibiotics I take, there never seems to be a simple solution to getting better, and I’m left being told to “just to wait it out.” With flu season approaching, it’s essential to stay healthy, but how can we go about that?
As college students, we spend time in common areas daily. Thousands of us open the same doors, turn the same pages and rub our palms across the same desks–it’s all in our hands. While the spread of germs is inevitable, there are several places UMW can do a better job of keeping sanitary. My solution to this problem? Hand sanitizer dispensers located at every building on campus.
While it may seem like common sense to wash your hands before eating, not many people do it–and the rest of us are suffering.
According to the CDC, the flu season lasts from October and can end in May, the length of a school year, although it typically peaks between December and February. This season does not include other respiratory diseases such as bronchitis that which may go around campus.
The CDC estimates that there are between 9.2 and 35.6 million people in the U.S. that contract the flu per year. Divided by 323,000,000, the number of the U.S. census bureau estimate, the amount of people who have the flu in the U.S. rounds out to between every 1 in 35 people or between every 1 in 9 people. At Mary Washington, that means between 114 and 444 people will get the flu this year.
“I definitely think that the dining hall should provide hand sanitizer because it helps reduce the number of bacteria transmitted. Lately, students have been catching colds, strep throats, etc., and I believe if we initiate correct hygiene practices then we could possibly reduce the number of bacteria transmitted,” said Kaitlin Smyth, a freshman biology major.
Some may ask where the money allocated for hand sanitizers is, but hand sanitizer dispensers are cost-effective. The price of one can be relatively cheap, a Purell touch-free dispenser amounting to a total $9.96 on Amazon.
The most important thing during the school year is to stay well so that you’re able to go to your classes and do well in those classes. I recommend disinfecting your phone, washing your hands, remaining hydrated, and taking vitamins. Since Mary Washington doesn’t have hand sanitizer dispensers right now, I recommend washing your hands in the bathrooms on the second and fourth floors of the UC before you eat.
“We generally provide hand sanitizer pumps at the Top of the UC cashier stations during the flu season. I believe they are available as of September 17 for students to use,” said Rose Benedict from Campus Dining. While I am pleased to see the school taking initiative to reduce flu season ailments, the dispensers should be available year-round.
Instead of risking sickness, we could easily prevent illness and encourage handwashing by installing hand sanitizer dispensers where they are easily accessible. Instead of allowing the people who cough into their hands to use the communal tongs at the salad bar, the school should get together $30 to install hand sanitizer dispensers in common places for the people who don’t have the foresight (like me) to have hand sanitizer on hand.